August 13, 1996
Q. Pete, can you tell us what it was like out there as far as what he did that challenged you so much?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it was serve. His serve was giving me a lot of problems. Especially second serve had a big kick on it. I just never really felt likely I got a good rhythm on it. It gave me a lot of problems. I have always had a difficult time playing against lefties. My record has been pretty good over the past couple of years, but I just felt -- I have never seen his serve before, so it takes a little while to get used to it, and I thought I served pretty well and had held on serve pretty easily, but I couldn't convert on the breakpoints to make things a little easy. So many chances to break him and kind of ease into the match and I never really did until I finally got the breakpoint opportunity and converted like 3-2 in the third, so I finally did it. Finally, you know, converted on one.
Q. At what point did you think you could lose the match?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, if I was down matchpoint, then there was a possibility that I could lose, but I never really felt like I was going to lose even though he won the second set. He still had a long way to go. He had to maintain that level and hopefully he was hoping that I would drop a level. I didn't. I kind of regrouped and kind of regained my composure there and never really felt like I was going to lose. I felt he -- it could have come down to another tiebreaker, but fortunately, it didn't happen.
Q. I thought you lost your composure maybe just a little bit fourth game of the third set. You had him down Love-40; he came back and won that game.
PETE SAMPRAS: I wasn't happy -- happy camper. Like you said, Love-40 and he was coming up with some good volleys. I haven't been converting on break points even in Cincinatti last week. I have been struggling a little bit. Hopefully I get some confidence this week and play some more matches and convert some breakpoints because that is how I am going to win because I am going to hold on the serve pretty easy most of time. It is just a matter of breaking serve and I didn't do that well today.
Q. Does it help at all having a tight match like this to open a tournament?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it does and it doesn't. I much rather go out and, you know, win 2 and 2, but as it turns out, it is a good fight to get through. So in that respect, I am happy about that, but I'd much rather have converted one of those matchpoints in the tiebreaker. Wasn't really up to playing the third, but came up with the good volley.
Q. Pete, when you look back last week in the tough matches you had over there and started off with a tough match over here, does that concern you at all for two week's time?
PETE SAMPRAS: No, not really. I feel that my game is coming around a little bit even though I struggled a little bit today. I felt like I had such a long break, five weeks after Wimbledon. That is the longest break I have had in some time and I need some matches and kind of get into the swing of things. So, you know, it will be nice to win here; go into the Open with some confidence and so this is a good start. Didn't play well, but I kind of got through it.
Q. So is a win here, would you say important or vital for you?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it is important for the confidence. You know, you can talk 'til we are blue in the face preparing for the Majors. Last year my summer was mediocre and I won the Open. Then another year I won three straight tournaments and I lost the Open. It depends how you wake up on that day in the U.S. Open. That is what it comes down to. I am a strong believer you can kind of disregard what happens over the summer unless you lose every match and go in there with no confidence, but, you know, it's a whole new ballgame out there.
Q. What does it say about the men's tour when a player ranked in the 350s plays you, the No. 1 player in the world, three difficult sets?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, it tells you it is pretty deep. You qualify; beat Jakob Hlasek; went out and gave me a good fight. These guys come out with nothing to lose. They are playing kind of at a very high level, and it just tells you the men's game, if you are not going out ready to play from the first point on, you are not going to win. Ladies game, you know, a lot of these girls are winning in the locker room before they go out, so it is, you know, you can't take anything for granted no matter what he is ranked.
GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Pete?
CRAIG GABRIEL: I was just wondering if you have been in the lockerroom before they played. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)
PETE SAMPRAS: I just heard rumors.
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